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In the first dictionary of the language of the New England Indians, compiled by Roger Williams (1643) and entitled “Key Into The Language of America”, we can verify that the name of the Wampanoag Tribe meant “white people” in English. Wompi ( = white) combines with nanoag (people or men) to form Wampanoag. Another example, is the word wampum which refers to white shell money used by the Wampanoags.
Roger Williams noted that the Wampanoags “themselves are tawnie, by the Sunne and their annoyntings, yet they are borne white”. He also remarked along with his Pilgrim contemporaries on the unusual friendliness of the Wampanoag Indians. For example, Massasoit, the Chief of the Wampanoags, was given the epithet of “good chief” by the Pilgrims whom he protected.
A century before the Pilgrims landed, Giovanni Verrazzano sailed on Narragansett Bay (1524) for fifteen days and was also quite impressed by the friendly nature of the Wampanoag Indians. The three existing copies of the letter attributed to Verrazzano, describing his voyage to North America, are somewhat different from each other. However, all three copies give the same description of the aborigines of Narragansett Bay:
(1) “This is the finest looking tribe (Wampanoag) , and the handsomest in their costumes, that we have found in our voyage. They exceed us in size, and they are of a very fair complexion; some of them incline more to a white and others to a tawny color. (di colore bianchissimo; aicuni (some, not all) pendano piu in bianchezza, altri in color flavo).
(2) . . “Their faces are sharp, their hair long and black, upon the adorning of which they bestow great pains; their eyes are black and sharp, their expressions mild and pleasant.”
(3) “Their women are of the same form and beauty, very graceful, of fine countenance, and of pleasing appearance and manners and modesty.”
(4) “We find (them) kind and gentle”... “We formed a great friendship with them”
(5) The Wampanoags are “situated in 41 degrees 40 minute of north latitude”
Dighton Rock, "White Man's Brook." and it's source, the White Spring
the navigators of the time had difficulty in measuring longitude, they
accurately calculated latitudes in a routine fashion “by taking the sun’s
altitude from day to day” (Verrazzano). Both “the very excellent harbor”
where Verrazzano found “the white and friendly Indians” and the Mount Hope
(Bristol, R. I.) headquarters of the Wampanoag Indians are situated in the
latitude of 41°40' minutes’. Dighton Rock, which is only 12 miles north of Mount Hope and
within the Narragansett Delta, is situated at 41 degrees 48' minutes latitude.
The descriptions given of “white and friendly (Wampanoag) Indians” by Verrazzano, Roger Williams, and the Pilgrim writers, constitute enough anthropological evidence to merit our analysis of the genetics and the linguistics of the Wampanoag Tribe.
The nine years between the arrival of Corte Real and his crew in New England (1502) and the date on Dighton Rock (1511) is sufficiently long for the Portuguese to have lived intimately with these natives. Few realize, that of all European peoples, the Portuguese were always the ones which mingled most freely with the natives among which they settled.
Detail from "The Final Judgment" by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican. A Portuguese bending down tries to raise to Heaven two gentiles: A Negro from African and an Indian from Brazil
Motivated by a sense of brotherhood or, perhaps, simple promiscuity they mixed with the natives, imparting their language and physical characteristics. This Portuguese manner of civilization is succinctly expressed by Gilberto Freyre, a Brazilian philosopher: “God created the white and the Negro, and the Portuguese made the mulatto!”
Genetic scheme of Mestiço hybrid (Dobzhansky)
The apparent skin color of a person is determined by three components: carotene, oxyhemoglobin, and melanin. It is melanin, however, which constitutes the true pigment of the skin. The variation in the amount of melanin produces skin shades from white to black. In the interbreeding of black and white races, half of the genes (black producing more pigment) , and the other half (white genes producing less pigment), always blend together. It has been verified that the genetic mixing of pure Negroes with pure Caucasians always produces, in the first generation, Mulattoes of intermediate skin color.
diagram shows clearly that in the first generation the pigment genes are equally
represented — (half white and half black) —producing always a Mulatto. While
in the first generation the white and black genes are equally represented, later
generations show a greater variability in the combinations of these genes. Thus,
the skin color of the subsequent generations can extend from extremely dark or
pure black to extremely fair or pure white.
Re-examining Dobzhanskv’s diagram we can better visualize the genetic mosaic of skin tones for the third or fourth generation with its greater genetic variability.
The interbreeding of an American Indian with a pure white produces a specific type of mulatto called Mestiço or half breed. Anthropological studies done in North, Central, and South America are in agreement that the genetic distribution of the pigment genes in the Mestiço is the same as that of the mulatto, but extending over a range of lighter skin colors.
It has also been observed that the Indian Mestiço of the first generation is taller than the full-blooded parents. Pure American Indians have a larger and rounder face than the Caucasians. However, American Indian hybrids of the first generation were found to have faces of a smaller size and narrower form, approaching the characteristics of the white pa rent.
Dr. Lawrence Angel, Curator of the Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, wrote: “One further point of interest is that American Indians, especially the Eastern Woodland variants, were much less different from Europeans in size and other measurements than are most Mongoloid or proto-Mongoloid groups.”
There is an interval of 22 years between the arrival of Miguel Corte Real (1502) and Verrazzano (1524) . During these two decades ample time was provided for the first generation of Mestiços to attain young adulthood. Thus, we can understand Verrazzano’s amazement at finding white Indians among the Wampanoags in contrast with the dark skinned tribes he encountered to the South.
When the Pilgrims and Roger Williams described the whiteness of the Wampanoag Indians they were observing Mestiços of the fourth generation because the average life span was approximately thirty years for the aborigines of that period. It is not difficult to accept the theory that the Wampanoag Indians had genetic contact with white men if we consider the reports of their friendly behavior and fair ness of skin.
the Wampanoag Indians had indeed such genetic and cultural intercourse with
white men, we would expect that, besides the imprint of civilized manners and
light skin color, the language of the newly arrived race must also have been
assimilated by the aborigines.
If our interpretation is correct, and the white men in question were Miguel Corte Real and his crew, we should be able to find proper and place names of Portuguese origin in the Wampanoag language.
Before we take on the task of analyzing the vocabulary of the Indians of New England, we should review the Portuguese words which have been used in more than 60 languages since the time of the Portuguese discoveries. The most profound cultural influence left by any explorer or settler is his language. It resists the “washing out” of generations, particularly if the words are descriptive of things new to the inhabitants.
In the 16th Century, Portuguese was the first modern language to be spoken on all the continents. The impact of Portuguese navigators and missionaries was so great that even today, 53 Asiatic languages in Indian, Ceylon, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, Formosa, the Philippines, Japan — employ Portuguese words. Today, among hundreds of languages, Portuguese is the eighth most spoken in the world.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan. Fernando Mendes Pinto, Cristovão Borralho, Diogo Zaimoto, and António da Mota all taught the Japanese the use of gun powder in the harquebus (1542).
Later the Portuguese founded the city of Nagasaki as a commercial center where they introduced tobacco by growing it on the hill sides of the city. At the same time they converted many of the Japanese to the Catholic religion and constructed many churches.
Most significant of all, many Portuguese words indicating objects and religious terms foreign to the Japanese were so strongly assimilated that even today the Japanese language contains 90 Portuguese-derived words. We should note that some of the Portuguese-Japanese words are seldom used today, but others are part of everyday conversation throughout modern Japan.
Sug. coy, almond
Beads of Rosary
a great deal
Portugal was the first modern nation to have an empire in which the sun never set. During the discoveries, the Atlantic Ocean practically became a Portuguese Sea.
When Spain began to challenge Portugal’s supremacy in the Atlantic after Columbus’ voyage (1492) to West Indies, the two peninsular monarchs compromised their ambitions by agreeing to the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). They divided the World into two halves by drawing an imaginary line from pole to pole, 370 leagues west of Cape Verde Islands. All territories lying west of that line would belong to Spain: all other lands on the east side of the same meridian and discovered by the Portuguese up to 1494 would belong to Portugal. In the early maps which describe the Tordesillas line (e.g. Cantino map) , we can see that Newfoundland and eastern Canada in the north, and Brazil in the south, were included in the Atlantic dominions of Portugal.
Even today, the Portuguese-speaking communities, as remnants of a huge empire, constitute the most strategic chain of territories from North to South Atlantic (the 23 islands of the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde, São Tome, and Príncipe, plus the territories of Portuguese Guiné and Angola and Brazil).
Ninety years before the Corte Real theory was conceived, Reverend George Patterson, D. D. wrote a monograph entitled “The Portuguese on the North-East Coast of America, and the first European attempt at Colonization There. A Lost Chapter in American History,” (1890).
Reverend Patterson presented a list of 52 place names of Portuguese origin along the coast of Canada. He based his study on the revision of place names in early maps made by various cartographers, selecting only those names that had either continued in use to that date (1890) or had been employed for long periods in earlier times.
For example, the word Kanata is an Indian word derived from “Canada”, a Portuguese word used in the 15th century to denote a narrow bordered passage traced in an un known wilderness. This was the name given to the St. Lawrence River by the Portuguese navigators during their search for the Northwest passage to India. In Newfoundland there is a narrow bay, known as Canada Bay, a narrow harbor called Canada Harbor with a cape at its entrance named Canada Head. Bacallaus, another word once thought to be Indian, is Portuguese for codfish. Even to day in Portugal, Newfoundland is referred to as the land of Bacalhaus as it was named on many early maps of different cartographers.
Baia do Canada
Enseada do Canada
Ponta do Canada
Baja de Concepcão
Ilha das Flores
I das Garnas
Ilha das Gamas
St. Michaels Bay
Baía da Torre
Labrador (from Labrador) , meaning farmer, was the surname of Joao Fernandes, who discovered the region of Cabo Razo, today Cape Race, meaning in Portuguese “flat cape”, which accurately describes its appearance. Patterson strongly asserted that the Portuguese navigators were the first colonizers of North America: “The fact that so many names should have been affixed to places so firmly as to adhere to them through all the changes of well nigh four hundred years is very significant. It clearly implies occupancy, and that for sometime. The mere visit of an explorer could not itself have effected such a result.”
Now that we have traveled around the world and verified the influence of the Portuguese language on so many and diversified peoples, it is time to review the language of the Indians of New England and sort out the place and proper names of Portuguese origin. We should note that the Indians of eastern Canada were part of the Algonquin Nation which also included all the Indian tribes of New England and the coastal tribes extending to Virginia. It is also necessary to recall that from the time of Miguel Corte Real (1502) to the landing of the Pilgrims (1620) there passed about four generations of American Indians, the life span being approximately thirty years.
In 1617 a plague swept through New Eng land and wiped out several tribes completely, while killing the older Indians of the surviving tribes. The Pilgrims were forced to rely! on oral tradition to record the Algonquin language be cause the Indians had no alphabet or written language.
Any linguistic influence on the Wampanoags had to sift through at least four filters before the Pilgrim Writers had occasion to register the Indian names and places in writ ten form. The phonetics and the meaning of each word had to resist the "washing out” of four generations:
Before proceeding, we should remember that Quina is the name of the Portuguese Coat of Arms. The Portuguese flag is called Bandeira das Quinas, or Flag of Quinas.
The word Quina mar also refer to the extract of cinchona bark, an evergreen from which the quinine drugs are obtained. Inasmuch as this alkaloid was first found in Peru (1638) it could not have been reported in Europe prior to the departure of the Pilgrims in 1620. Since the natural habitat of the cinchona tree extends only 20° above or below the equator — in Peru, the Congo, São Tomé, the East Indies, and Ceylon it cannot grow in North America. Quina in American Indian, therefore, must be a Portuguese derivation or native in some way other than as a reference to the Quina tree.
Quina was combined with the names of the tribal chiefs of New England to denote nobility and leadership. Massasoit (massa=great + soit=chief) was the king or sachem of the Wampanoag Indians who occupied eastern Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Cape Cod.
However, Massasoit was only his title, from which we derive Massachusetts”. His name was actually Osamequina, which meant “Yellow Feather” or “Strong Power”. The pronunciation of Osamequina is not greatly changed if the spelling is altered to Osanaquina. The addition of an “H” (silent in Portuguese) converts the word to Hosanaquina — meaning “Glory to the King” or “God save the King”. Massasoit would probably have been addressed as Osanaquina or Hosanaquina as a form of respect and loyalty. His famous son, King’ Philip, was also addressed as Osamequina.
The name of Massasoit’s brother, Quadequina, was one hundred per cent Portuguese: quade, the version of corte from Corte Real, plus quina. The Narragansett sachem’s name was Quinapin and Maine’s tribal chief was called Amen quina. Massasoit’s minister of war was Testaquina. In Portuguese, testa means “tough” or “rigid”, probably a clue to the man’s character and his policy with other tribes. Several Indian sites in New England have names that include the word quina.
The genetic name for all the tribes of the so-called Indian Federation was Algonquin. Algonquins, Algonkins, or Algonquinas, is a combination of the Portuguese words, quinas for the five dots of the Portuguese emblem and Algon which is derived from one of two forms:
(1) Algarve, the name of the most southern province of Portugal where Prince Henry the Navigator developed his School of Navigation at Sagres, and where the Corte Real family originated;
(2) Algo, (somebody) which in Portuguese refers to a person who is important or prominent. Fidalgo (=nobleman) was derived from the contraction of Filho de Algo, meaning “son of somebody”.
MEANING OF THE WORDS:
The Pilgrims and the other English writers who followed them recorded the names and places of the natives in more tham1 fifty histories and dictionaries. They used, of course, English phonetics to compile the Indian vocabulary. Thus we find some variations in the spelling of Indian words, but more importantly they retain the same meaning.
The Romance languages (Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish) have many words that are common to each other. As we review the Algonquin word list of Portuguese origin, some terms are easily recognized as Spanish or Italian. However, there are other nouns which cannot belong to any other language but Portuguese.
Nowadays we are concerned with an atomic shelter. The American Indians of New England needed an Abrigador, their word for shelter. This is the same word with the same meaning used today in Portuguese. The essentials of Indian life were not much different from ours. When they wanted a small inlet or hiding place for their canoes, they wanted an Abrigada. Abrigada is a name which refers to a small bay, such as those along the coast of Portugal.
Other examples are:
Cabbo, in American-Indian, meaning cape in English, has the Portuguese equivalent of cabo.
Casco, meaning round in American Indian, corresponds to the Portuguese casco or the small barrel which was used to contain drinking water on the caravels.
Curvo, meaning curve in American Indian, is curvo in Portuguese.
Pico, (Indian) meaning peak, is the name of the Azorian Island, Pico, the highest point in the Atlantic.
Manhan, (Indian) meaning east, is the same word manhan in Portuguese for very early in the morning.
One of the most impressive Indian words is Sementels, meaning grains. Today the unique Portuguese word for grains is Sementes.
Pocasset, (Indian) derived from the Portuguese word pouca meaning little or small, is another word commonly used in Portugal. It describes well the small Pocasset bays at Cape Cod and Mt. Hope. The famous Indian princess, Pocahontas, was given her name because she was a “little woman”.
Vasque was for five generations the name of the first-born of the Corte-Real family. It should not come as a surprise that the Indians used the name Wasque as in Wasque Point and Pasque Island, both in Buzzards Bay.
During the time of the great explorations, several names were bywords to the Portuguese navigators. Tomar was (and still is) the name of the city that housed the headquarters of the Order of Christ, where all the navigators received their religious training. When the Pilgrims arrived in America, they discovered the following Indian names: Tomah River, Tomah Brook, and Tomah Lake (the H is sounded).
Tagus is the name of the river running through Lisbon from which all the sea expeditions departed. From the Indians, the Pilgrims heard of the Togus River and Togus Lake.
Sagres was the name of the ocean promontory where Prince Henry! housed his school of navigation. Saugus, an Indian name, is a town north of Boston. And three miles west of Dighton Rock, there is a locale named Sagues. In addition to its phonetic similarity to Sagres, it meant in Indian “wet by overflow”, which is somewhat descriptive of Sagres, where the Promontory is always wet by the splashing of the waves.
Some of these words illustrate by them selves the epic of the Portuguese discoveries from one extreme of the globe to the other. For example, the word Catana, means “big knife”. It is used in Portugal and its overseas provinces, Brazil, Japan, and was used by American Indians of New England.
Mount Hope (Bristol, R. I.) the highest point in Narragansett Bay is a name derived from the Indian word Montaup, meaning “lookout place”. In Portuguese Mon'alto meaning a “high mount”, is pronounced very similar to montaup.
We have seen that the Portuguese missionaries gave the religious word Amen to the Japanese people. Thus we have Amenquina as the name of an Indian chief.
Profile Rock, is five miles east of Dighton Rock. It served as a natural shelter for the Wampanoags and a stopping place from Cape Cod to the Taunton River
The Japanese were not acquainted with bread until the Portuguese arrived. This is the reason why in Japan today they still use the Portuguese word for bread: Pan (Pão, in modern Portuguese) . But the word Pano (Indian) in the Catholic mass had a religious significance. Another Indian chief was named Panoquina (Pano + Quina). The word Hosana, meaning “Glory to the King” is also used in the Catholic mass. This is the origin of the name Osanaquina. The Indians also called their God, Okeus, which is derived from the Portuguese “0 Deus”, meaning “God”.
One of the outcomes of the Portuguese discoveries was the spreading of the Christian faith. And the foregoing linguistic analysis indicates that Miguel Corte Real attempted to Christianize the Indians.
Fado, meaning “fate” is a type of Portuguese national folk song. It is usually dramatic and melancholic.
The Portuguese attempt at colonization New England is indeed a “lost chapter in American History”. While the Portuguese colonizers have shared the “fate” of the Indians, the words echo again. And when a Nova Scotian poet lamented the passing of the red man. he may well have sung a fado for the Portuguese Indian:
“The memory of the red man,
How can it pass away,
When its names of music linger,
On each mount, and stream and bay!’
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